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Book: The Stars We Steal
Author: Alexa Donne
Published: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: Advanced Review Copy
Source: Raincoast Books
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Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a free copy for review.
The Stars We Steal stars Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg as she takes on the burden of finding financial security for her family. She has basically two options—find a rich guy to marry in the Valg Season or get a patent for her water filtration system and get some ships to give it a try. Her father and sister see marriage as the only option. If Leo doesn’t succeed in one of these ways, her family will lose their space ship. Sure, it’s old and fading and not really all that nice compared to a lot of the other ships in the fleet, but it’s home.
On the surface, the book seems like a pretty standard YA romance. Leo is forced by her father to participate in the balls and speed-dating nights of the Season, an event that happens every five years so the rich descendants of earth’s elites could find other rich people to marry. It has some fun aspects of today’s T.V. dating shows like The Bachelor.
But once you get into the story—and I was sucked in immediately by Alexa’s characterization and world-building—you realize there are a lot of layers to this story. Aside from the dating game, there’s a reimagined, science-fiction version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Leo’s best friend growing up, Elliot, was deemed an unsuitable match by her father and aunt because he was poor. After a huge falling out, he’s back and taking part in the Season because he’s now a rich captain of a whiskey ship. Cue Leo and Elliot banter and sexual tension.
And then, there’s the twisty world of politics on the Scandinavian, the ship hosting the Season events. And the tension between Leo and her very wealthy cousin Klara and aunt Captain Lind, and the animosity between Leo and her sister Carina. Alexa doesn’t shy away from issues of classism and elitism, of selfishness and ambition, and even of petty and not so petty crime.
There is so much in The Stars We Steal and it is absolutely lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and want to read more young adult science fiction. This book is easy to read but also really makes you think. It’s entertaining and swoon-y, funny and smart, and just like Jane Austen, it’s social commentary wrapped in a pretty package.
I highly recommend.
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